Panaji, March 27 (IANS) A miffed Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Thursday said people should not blame the government for any spread of coronavirus now, after he was forced to relent on his earlier decision of a "100 per cent lockdown" in Goa and order the opening up of grocery stores, amid panic and complaints from all quarters.
Sawant, in a message to the people, said that grocery stores would be open from Friday onwards, even 24x7 if the owners could manage it, but also said that he was more keen on a total lockdown to rein in the Covid-19 menace.
"We cannot say when and how the coronavirus can be transmitted. Therefore we should take care of ourselves. If tomorrow, coronavirus spreads in a big way in Goa, then you cannot blame the government.
"Government wanted a 100 per cent lockdown. The government did not want unnecessary contact because it could lead to spread of coronavirus," the Chief Minister said, adding that he was forced to take a decision "due to complaints from many quarters".
He, however, urged people to maintain social distance and not to rush into stores once they open for fear of contracting or spreading the virus.
The decision by the CM comes on a day, when an apparatus rigged by the state administration, with the help of volunteers, for home delivery of essential commodities crumbled, leaving people in most parts of Goa without supply of milk, bread, food grains and other articles.
The Opposition has been slamming Sawant for failing to make essential goods available to the people of Goa on the fifth day of curfew - the March 22 janata curfew announced by PM Modi had been extended by three days by the CM.
Sawant said, that he was aware of the perils of the coronavirus because he was a medical practitioner and therefore was keen on the 21-day spell of curfew.
"As a doctor, I read about the coronavirus and Covid-19 and how it can spread. After learning about all this, I had felt that there should be a 100 per cent lock down," Sawant said.
Interestingly, earlier this month the Chief Minister was reluctant to postpone the Zilla Panchayat elections which was originally scheduled to be held on March 22, despite criticism from the Opposition, which maintained that the polling exercise would put the entire population of Goa eligible to vote to risk of contracting the virus.
The polls were eventually postponed after a petition was filed before the Goa bench of the Bombay Court seeking postponement of polls due to the pandemic.